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Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost - July 8, 2012



Saint Dominic contemplating the Scriptures

Saint Dominic
contemplating the Scriptures

Comments have been prepared by Chris Haslam using reputable commentaries, and checked for accuracy by the Venerable Alan T Perry, of the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton. While not intended to be exhaustive, they are an aid to reading the Scriptures with greater understanding.

Comments are best read with the lessons.

Feedback to is always welcome.


Lessons for this week from the Vanderbilt University web site

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2 Samuel

At one time, the first and second books of Samuel formed a single book. They were separated in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures known as the Septuagint (about 250 BC). 1 Samuel begins with the story of Samuel: hence the name. 2 Samuel tells the story of David's rule, first as he gradually gained control of the whole of Judah (the south), and then when he was king of both Judah and Israel (the north.)


2 Samuel 5:1-5,9-10

David has settled at Hebron (see 2:3). He is publicly anointed to rule over Judah by the council of tribal heads. Meanwhile, in the north, Abner, once Saul’s military commander, makes Ishbaal, Saul’s son, puppet king over the northern tribes (see 2:8). Both tribal coalitions plan to annex Gibeon, northwest of Jerusalem. They try to settle the dispute by a tournament, but when this attempt fails, they go to war: David’s troops win. Abner, recognizing a lost cause, switches to David’s side (see 3:1-10). Abner is killed (see 3:22-29); Ishbaal’s courage fails and he is murdered by two of his own, who are then killed on David’s orders, for killing “a righteous man” (4:11). David has Abner and Ishbaal buried at Hebron, thus showing them respect.

Now, there being no acceptable successor to Saul, the “tribes of Israel” (v. 1), the north, seek David’s consent to becoming their king too. He has a right to be king for he is an Israelite and was army commander under Saul (v. 2). The council of the north (“elders of Israel”, v. 3) anoint him king over them too; the states are thus joined in one person. David now conquers a city belonging to neither, and makes it a neutral capital. (The “Jebusites”, v. 6, are local Canaanites.) The defenders scoff at David’s attempt at conquest: even the “blind and the lame” will be his match, but David’s army prevails: Canaanite power is removed; Jerusalem becomes “the city of David” (v. 9). Per this story, the troops appear to enter via the “water shaft” (v. 8), the tunnel through the walls to the water spring. David’s hatred for the “lame ...”, is cited as the cause of their exclusion from the Temple: clearly a later addition in line with Leviticus 21:17-23. The “Millo” (v. 9) is probably the earthwork to the north of the city. David has increased in power with the help of God, the deity common to north and south.


Psalms

Psalms is a collection of collections. The psalms were written over many centuries, stretching from the days of Solomon's temple (about 950 BC) to after the Exile (about 350 BC.) Psalms are of five types: hymns of praise, laments, thanksgiving psalms, royal psalms, and wisdom psalms. Within the book, there are five "books"; there is a doxology ("Blessed be ... Amen and Amen") at the end of each book.


Psalm 48

The psalm celebrates the beauty and security of Jerusalem, partly built on Mount Zion. God is to be praised as her god. She is the “joy” (v. 2) of all people. God is the “great King”; he defends her (v. 3a); he is her “sure defence”. When kings unite in attacking her (v. 4), the very sight of her stops them in their tracks (v. 5); their armies are scattered like sea-going ships when hit by a storm (“east wind”, v. 7) and retreat and shake (“trembling”, v. 6) with pain, like “a woman in labour”. V. 8 is Israel’s reaction. Yet Jerusalem is a joy to pilgrims who consider God’s gift of love when worshipping in the Temple (v. 9). God shows himself to all; his power (“right hand”, v. 10) is just, both to enemies and pilgrims; may we rejoice in his decisions. Let us process around the city and her defences, both physical and divine (v. 12); may future generations (v. 13) hear this: God is the source of her strength and “our guide” (v. 14) forever.


2 Corinthians

This is a letter, written in the style common in the first century AD. From the text, we know that Paul wrote it in Macedonia after leaving Ephesus, probably in the autumn of 57 AD. It gives us a picture of Paul the person: an affectionate man, hurt to the quick by misunderstandings and evil-doing of his beloved fellow Christians, yet happy when he can praise them. The letter's prime intent is to combat evils which have arisen in the Christian communities in the Achaian peninsula of Greece.


2 Corinthians 12:2-10

Paul continues to rebut his critics. In 11:21b-33, he has answered them on loyalty to his Jewish heritage, and his achievements and suffering for Christ. They appear to claim superiority to him in another area: visions and revelations. He has said: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (11:30) and “It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord” (12:1).

Now in v. 2, in humility, he speaks as though someone else had a vision: “a person in Christ”, (but see v. 7, “me”). It really did happen: “fourteen years ago” I had a mystical experience which is undescribable (“in the body ...”, v. 3). (God lives in “the third heaven”, v. 2, or “Paradise”, v. 4.) What I heard was like what members of Greek cults must not reveal (“things ...”). I really do have grounds for boasting, but I will not explain, lest anyone have too exalted an idea of me (v. 6). A “thorn ... in the flesh” (v. 7) keeps me from “being too elated”: a chronic condition, a physical or mental disability, a recurring illness – or opposition of one or more people. (“Satan” was thought responsible for disease as well as sin.) At one time, I repeatedly “appealed to the Lord” (v. 8) but he said: the affliction will not be removed, for the power of God is more apparent when it works through a sufferer (v. 9). “So, I will boast ... of my weaknesses” so that the Holy Spirit, “the power of Christ”, may be in me and work through me. So I accept my condition as it is, “for the sake of Christ” (v. 10), for when I feel weak, I am most effectively showing God’s power. I have been forced to use the tactics of my critics, i.e. boasting (v. 11). He has shown himself to be a “true apostle” (v. 12).


Symbol of St Mark

Mark

As witnesses to the events of Jesus life and death became old and died, the need arose for a written synopsis. Tradition has it that Mark, while in Rome, wrote down what Peter remembered. This book stresses the crucifixion and resurrection as keys to understanding who Jesus was. When other synoptic gospels were written, i.e. Matthew and Luke, they used the Gospel according to Mark as a source. Mark is most probably the John Mark mentioned in Acts 12:12: his mother's house was a meeting place for believers.


Mark 6:1-13

Mark has told us of Jesus’ success with the crowds. They have listened to the word expressed in parables; they have seen him heal the sick. He has commissioned and instructed the twelve, showing them that he has power over nature, sickness and even death. Now Jesus leaves the “place” where he has healed the woman and Jairus’ daughter, and comes to his “hometown” in Galilee, with those who trust in him. His reception in the synagogue is different from that in 1:21-28; they now ask: Who is this guy? How can a mere carpenter be so wise? It doesn’t add up: how can he possibly do supernatural deeds? “They took offence at him” (v. 3): the rejection begins. (The word translated offence also means stumbling block.) Jesus rebuts: Israel has often rejected prophets who came to save her. Because the people of his “hometown” lack faith, he does few miracles there (v. 5).

Perhaps as a result of rejection at home, Jesus concentrates on rural areas. He sends out “the twelve” (v. 7) to minister, to extend his proclaiming of God’s Kingdom in word and action; they too will heal, mostly by exorcism (“unclean spirits”). His orders to them (vv. 8-9) are set in first-century Palestine; because of the urgency of the mission and the need to trust in God, they are to subordinate material and physical concerns to the task of preaching, as he does. They are not to waste time seeking better accommodation (v. 10); nor on those who refuse to listen: just move on (v. 11). They are to do what Jesus has begun (v. 12).

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